Comment by the Information and Press Department regarding the results of the 56th Special Session of OPCW Executive Council (source):
A special session of the OPCW Executive Council on the Syrian chemical file ended in The Hague on November 24. After the United States proposed that such a session be held more than two weeks ago, the session has been suspended and resumed more than once by the US partners with no reason given. This nonstandard behaviour is contrary to the usual OPCW practice and can be explained by Washington’s intention to ensure the adoption of a harsh anti-Syria decision, which many Council members were unwilling to support.
The proposed decision said, citing the unsubstantiated conclusions of the seventh report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (OPCW-UN JIM), declared that the Syrian Arab Republic released sarin as a chemical weapon on the town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017. Based on this allegation, those who made the decision concluded that the Damascus government had not declared all of its chemical weapons stockpiles and that the Syrian government must declare all of its remaining chemical stockpiles within 45 days following the adoption of the proposed decision.
This brings to mind an infamous precedent involving Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.
This US approach subsequently resulted in serious foreign policy outlays for Washington and major suffering for the Iraqi people.
Russia has always been firmly against the US proposal at the OPCW Executive Council, saying that the main provision of that proposal, which has placed the blame for the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun on Damascus, does not stand up to scrutiny. Russian experts provided facts to demonstrate the flaws of this conclusion at the interdepartmental briefing held at the Russian Foreign Ministry on November 2, 2017. It is notable that nobody has overturned these facts or even tried to do so since then. The United States and its allies have avoided an open professional discussion, pretending that these facts do not exist.
Ultimately, the United States had to withdraw its proposal. We would like to express our respect and gratitude to those states that have refused to support the US proposal and, by doing this, have demonstrated a high level of responsibility for taking substantiated and well-considered decisions at the OPCW.
The investigation of the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun is not over yet. The perpetrators will be identified sooner or later. Russia intends to continue to work towards this goal. At the same time, we will do our best to resist the politicisation of the OPCW and some countries’ attempts to use the Syria chemical file as a distasteful means of attaining pre-planned geopolitical goals.